Bordeaux. Napa. Chianti. Red Hook?
Brooklyn may never be mentioned in the same breath as such formidable winemaking regions, but for now, borough oenophiles are buzzed about the arrival of a winery in Red Hook.
California winemaker Abe Schoener will crush, ferment, age and bottle New York grapes in a factory on Beard Street, near the Fairway supermarket, starting this summer, the third urban winery to open in Brooklyn since 2005. The story was first cracked open by Dr. Vino, a seminal wine world blog.
But what could have lured Schoener from the bucolic vineyards of the Napa Valley to post-industrial Brooklyn?
“I was flabbergasted by the area, the beautiful buildings,” said Schoener, whose company is called Scholium Project. “It was the workspace and neighborhood that drew me in.”
Schoener says he’ll only use New York varietals, but he’s more drunk on his new location than on any particular grape the state’s vineyards have to offer.
“I’m not even a great student of New York wines,” Schoener confessed.
A year from now, Schoener’s first wines from Long Island’s North Fork and the Hudson Valley will be on the shelves. He has not come up with a name yet, but he’s so enamored with the area that it will definitely pay homage to local history.
Tipplers think there’s lucrative potential for an Empire State wine branded with a Brooklyn name.
“New York’s wine reputation is growing slowly. It’s having nice, steady growth,” said Adam Goldstein, co-owner of the Red, White & Bubbly wine shop on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, which sells its own “Brooklyn Wine Company” blends.
Pairing wine with the borough’s prestige could pay off, he added.
Citified winemaking is hardly a newfangled idea — a barrel of sauce was fermenting in the basement of nearly every Carroll Gardens household in the early 1900s.
But in recent years, several winemakers have brought their commercial operations to the Big Apple — Brooklyn has two others, Brooklyn Oenology in Greenpoint and Bridge Vineyards in Williamsburg.
Wineries are urbanizing because the biggest sales segment of the market come in the tasting room rather than the liquor store, experts say. Schoener says that played a role.
“New York is my most important wine market. Right now, sommeliers have to get on a plane, so it’s wonderful that [Red Hook] is accessible to the city.”